Friday, August 30, 2013

Double Standards

From Mark Curtis 'Web of Deceit'

"According to David Leigh and John Hooper writing for the Guardian in 2003, a chemical plant, a key component in Iraq’s chemical warfare arsenal was secretly built by Britain in 1985. Documents show British ministers knew at the time that the £14 million plant, called Falluja 2, was likely to be used for mustard and nerve gas production. 

Senior officials recorded in writing that Saddam Hussein was actively gassing his opponents and that there was a “strong possibility” that the chlorine plant was intended by the Iraqis to make mustard gas. At the time, Saddam was known to be gassing Iranian troops in their thousands in the Iran-Iraq war. 

But ministers in the then Thatcher government none the less secretly gave financial backing to the British company involved, Uhde Ltd, through insurance guarantees. Paul Channon, then trade minister, concealed the existence of the chlorine plant contract from the US administration, which was pressing for controls on such exports. 

He also instructed the export credit guarantee department (ECGD) to keep details of the deal secret from the public. The papers show that Mr Channon rejected a strong plea from a Foreign Office minister, Richard Luce, that the deal would ruin Britain’s image in the world if news got out: “I consider it essential everything possible be done to oppose the proposed sale and to deny the company concerned ECGD cover”. 

The Ministry of Defence also weighed in, warning that it could be used to make chemical weapons. But Mr Channon, in line with Mrs Thatcher’s policy of propping up the dictator, said: “A ban would do our other trade prospects in Iraq no good”." 

It i not often that SOYMB can agree with a Tory MP

Sarah Wollaston (Totnes, Conservative) 

"Where was the world’s policeman in 1985 when Iran was under sustained attack from chemical weapons? It suited the west to support Iraq in that situation. Why did we allow the world’s policeman to weaponise white phosphorus? When white phosphorus contacts the skin and burns as it oxidises, it burns right down to the bone. If that is not a chemical weapon, what is? Why is the world’s policeman allowing the USA to sell cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia? The point about cluster bombs is that they continue to kill and maim children long after the combatants have left the field. We need to be very clear. Why is the world’s policeman not calling a coup a coup in Egypt?...To be wary of war is not to stand idly by, but a realistic appraisal of the risks and learning from past experience. The British people are not standing idly by; they are delivering humanitarian aid, but they do not feel that humanitarian aid from the west is best delivered in the form of a cruise missile."

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